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Ventura growers protect crops from falling temperatures

Falling temperatures across the Southland have local growers worried: A 'hard freeze' could be devastating.
December 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Falling temperatures across the Southland have local growers worried. A "hard freeze" could be devastating. The bitter cold is putting local crops at great risk of damage. Wednesday night local farmers and growers were doing what they can to protect their fields.

For the last couple of days, Ventura County growers have been working to protect their trees and plants from the deep freeze that's coming.

The Cornejo family has 200 acres of orange, tangerine, lemon and avocado trees to protect. Like the other growers, they're using their irrigation system to protect the trees.

"It allows the crops to stay, with water being over 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it allows us to keep the trees warmer that way," said Carlos Cardenas, Cornejo Produce. "It's a much simpler system and it works really well for us."

Other growers will use wind machines.

"Typically the cold air sinks, so you've got really cold air down near the ground," said John Krist, CEO of Farm Bureau of Ventura County. "But ideally there's warmer air aloft. And so when you fire up these wind machines, they look like big airplane propellers on the tops of towers, it mixes the warm air aloft with the cold air down by the ground, and that raises the overall temperature in the orchard by a few degrees. And usually that's about all you need, is just a few degrees."

Krist says keeping the temperature at or above freezing is the goal.

Agriculture in Ventura County is a $2-billion-per-year industry. Citrus and avocado make up about a third of that.

"We have to protect that at all costs, but if it happens then we just deal with it. We've been here for over 30 years. It comes with the territory," said Cardenas.

According to the Farm Bureau, if the temperature drops down to 28 degrees, the plants and trees and fruit can be severely damaged.


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